What Causes Muscle Cramps? Know The Treatment And Preventive Measures

Muscle Cramps are very common and painful. Know what causes these muscle cramps and their preventive measures.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: Aug 31, 2021Updated at: Aug 31, 2021
What Causes Muscle Cramps? Know The Treatment And Preventive Measures

Muscles are building blocks of our body and are needed to be kept well in order to function properly. Whenever we do any exercise or movement in our body, muscles play a huge role in it. Muscle cramps are involuntary contractions that occur in various muscles throughout the body, these contractions happen so suddenly that you do not get time to react to it or position your body well for it. Muscle cramps are often very painful and can sometimes affect multiple muscles which can make the condition even more serious. Today, we will understand the cause, symptoms and methods to treat this problem. 

Where Do Muscle Cramps Occur?

OnlyMyHealth spoke to Dr. Sumeet Nigam, General Physician from Sahara Hospital, Lucknow to understand cause and occurrence of this problem. He says that muscle cramps are quite common because sudden movement or stretch in muscles causes these cramps. They can occur in almost any part of the body. Muscle cramps are however most painful and common in these body parts-

  • Arms
  • Hands
  • Abdominal wall
  • Feet
  • Thighs

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Commonly affected muscles are those which are present in your lower leg, back of your thigh and front of your thigh. This is because they take maximum load of your body and hence become vulnerable to stretch and muscle pulls etc. Sometimes it can also affect you at night which makes it very painful and terrible. Pain of muscle cramps however usually lasts only for 15 seconds, hence there is nothing much to worry about. It is just that in few cases, there can be lump formation beneath skin that can accompany cramps as well.

Causes of Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps can have multiple causes, depending on the reason, cause of it can differ. Muscle cramps can occur because of injuries, wrong posture, dehydration, exercising, overuse of muscles, etc. If you get muscle cramps because of dehydration, then it is a warning sign that your body needs liquid and fluid intake as soon as possible. Low levels of any of the minerals can also lead to muscle cramps. Cramps usually occur due to dehydration when there is lack of these minerals present in the body-

  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Magnesium

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Other Causes of Muscle Cramps

According to Dr. Sumeet, low blood supply to your legs or feet can also result to muscle cramps. These are more common to people to do exercise, walk or take active part in physical activities. Medical condition can also play a big role in the occurrence of these muscle cramps. These medical conditions include-

  • Alcoholism
  • Pregnancy
  • Spinal nerve compression
  • Kidney Failure
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Low thyroid gland function

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Treatment Options for Muscle Cramps

In most cases it is very easy to treat muscle cramps. You can apply hot or cold compress on your sore muscles at the first sign of spasm. This can help you to ease pain that has come along the muscle cramp. You can also use any of these treatment options for relieving pain and muscle cramps from your body-

  • A hot cloth
  • Heating pad
  • Ice
  • A clod cloth
  • Stretching 

Stretching is an effective way to release your cramp muscles but it needs to be done very carefully as any wrong stretch can further elevate your pain and cramps. You can pull your foot upwards and keep your hands to stretch the calf muscles. This will help you relieve pain in majority of cases.

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If that doesn’t heal your pain, then consult and doctor and take over the counter medicines until you are properly diagnosed. If these muscle cramps occur very commonly to you, then make sure to get X-ray or diagnose done as it can lead you to a bigger muscle problem or internal injury. 

stretching_to_cure_cramps

Prevention Tips to Control Muscle Cramps

Here are the following tips advised by doctor Sumeet to prevent having muscle cramps. Even though muscle cramps do occur once in a while, these preventive tips can control these spasms and cramps for a long period. 

  1. Stretch or warm up before participating in sport activities or exercises.
  2. Do not exercise right after eating and having meals
  3. Reduce your intake of food and drinks that contain caffeine, especially coffee and chocolate
  4. Try to stay hydrated for the most time, drink enough fluids that can keep you away from dehydration and muscle cramps. If you are exercising or doing more physical work, then increase your liquid intake.
  5. Increase your potassium levels in the body by natural ways such as fruits and milk etc. While exercising or physical work have an orange or banana, it may prevent you from cramps.
  6. Take vitamin supplement after consulting your doctor, it can ensure that you have enough necessary supply or nutrients in your body.

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